News helicopters crash, 4 dead


Summary

Both helicopters went down in a park in central Phoenix and caught fire.

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No one on the ground was hurt.

Television viewers did not actually witness the accident because cameras aboard both aircraft were pointed at the ground.

But they saw images from one of the helicopters break up and begin to spin before the station abruptly switched to the studio.

Television station KNXV reported that it owned one of the choppers.

The other was from KTVK.

A pilot and photographer aboard each chopper were killed.

Covering live chase

KNXV reporter Craig Smith, who was among the dead, was reporting live as police chased a man driving a construction truck who had fled a traffic stop and was driving erratically, hitting several cars and driving on the footpath at times.

Police had blown the truck's tyres, and the man eventually parked it, then carjacked another vehicle nearby.

After the picture broke up, the station switched to the studio and then briefly showed regular programming, a soap opera, before announcing that the helicopter had crashed.

The two choppers came down on the grass lawn in front of a boarded-up church at the park.

Firefighters secure scene

Firefighters swarmed to the area as thick black smoke rose from the scene.

Mary Lewis says she was stuck in traffic with her four grandsons and was watching the helicopters.

She turned to talk to the children, then saw a fireball in the air when she looked up again.

"I looked up and I see this 'boom', and I see one of the helicopters coming down, and I said 'Oh my God'," Ms Lewis says.

She says she went to the crash site to help, but there was nothing she could do.

"It's nothing there," Ms Lewis says. "Just burned-up stuff."

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says the FAA is reviewing air traffic control tapes to see if pilots were talking to controllers at that time.

"Typically air traffic controllers clear helicopters into an area where they can cover a chase like this," Mr Gregor says.

"Once they are in the area, the pilots themselves are responsible for keeping themselves separated from other aircraft."


Both helicopters went down in a park in central Phoenix and caught fire.

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No one on the ground was hurt.

Television viewers did not actually witness the accident because cameras aboard both aircraft were pointed at the ground.

But they saw images from one of the helicopters break up and begin to spin before the station abruptly switched to the studio.

Television station KNXV reported that it owned one of the choppers.

The other was from KTVK.

A pilot and photographer aboard each chopper were killed.

Covering live chase

KNXV reporter Craig Smith, who was among the dead, was reporting live as police chased a man driving a construction truck who had fled a traffic stop and was driving erratically, hitting several cars and driving on the footpath at times.

Police had blown the truck's tyres, and the man eventually parked it, then carjacked another vehicle nearby.

After the picture broke up, the station switched to the studio and then briefly showed regular programming, a soap opera, before announcing that the helicopter had crashed.

The two choppers came down on the grass lawn in front of a boarded-up church at the park.

Firefighters secure scene

Firefighters swarmed to the area as thick black smoke rose from the scene.

Mary Lewis says she was stuck in traffic with her four grandsons and was watching the helicopters.

She turned to talk to the children, then saw a fireball in the air when she looked up again.

"I looked up and I see this 'boom', and I see one of the helicopters coming down, and I said 'Oh my God'," Ms Lewis says.

She says she went to the crash site to help, but there was nothing she could do.

"It's nothing there," Ms Lewis says. "Just burned-up stuff."

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says the FAA is reviewing air traffic control tapes to see if pilots were talking to controllers at that time.

"Typically air traffic controllers clear helicopters into an area where they can cover a chase like this," Mr Gregor says.

"Once they are in the area, the pilots themselves are responsible for keeping themselves separated from other aircraft."